Retailers seeking to enhance personalization of their customers’ experience should take note of the potential impact of Apple’s recently unveiled pro-privacy enhancements for its Safari web browser. The need for high motivation and transparency of opt-in for customer loyalty programs has never been more critical for retailers.
At its annual developer event, Apple announced an ad tracker – dubbed ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ (IPT) — which places restrictions on cookies based on how frequently a user interacts with the website that dropped them. After 30 days of a site not being visited, Safari purges the cookies entirely.
Since a major data misuse scandal has engulfed Facebook, and consumer awareness about how social platforms and data brokers track them around the web and erode their privacy by building detailed profiles to target them with ads has likely never been higher. Apple was ahead of the pack on this issue of how web infrastructure watches what users are doing by getting even tougher on trackers. Apple’s features intended to help safeguard users’ data remain one of the clearest and most compelling points of differentiation vs rival devices running Google’s Android OS, for example.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering took direct aim at social media giant, Facebook, highlighting how social plugins such as Like buttons, and comment fields which use a Facebook login, form a core part of the tracking infrastructure that follows people as they browse across the web. “It turns out these [like buttons and comment fields] can be used to track you whether you click on them or not. And so this year we are shutting that down,” said Federighi, drawing sustained applause and appreciative woos from the WWDC audience.
It has also engineered a feature designed to detect when a domain is solely used as a “first party bounce tracker” — i.e. meaning it is never used as a third party content provider but tracks the user purely through navigational redirects — with Safari also purging website data in such instances.
Another pro-privacy enhancement detailed by Federighi yesterday is intended to counter browser fingerprinting techniques that are also used to track users from site to site — and which can be a way of doing so even when/if tracking cookies are cleared.
“Data companies are clever and relentless,” he said. “It turns out that when you browse the web your device can be identified by a unique set of characteristics like its configuration, its fonts you have installed, and the plugins you might have installed on a device.
So what does this mean to retailers with a sincere desire to personalize the customer experience through data collection, and customers with a high expectation of both retail personalization and privacy?
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